About the Bob Wallack Community Journalism Award

This special award, which is named in honor of longtime New England journalist and former New England Press Association Executive Director Bob Wallack, recognizes an individual who has an exceptional record of commitment to community journalism.

This annual award celebrates the accomplishments of someone who, over a sustained period of time, has faithfully served the community for which they are responsible and has played an active, constructive role in contributing to its quality of life.

Anyone may nominate a colleague, co-worker, subordinate, superior, mentor, retiree, etc., who works or worked in our six-state region and truly exemplifies the ideal of a community journalist, just as Bob Wallack did.

Nominations consist of a letter of nomination that describes your nominee’s contributions and makes a case for why he/she should be chosen for this prestigious distinction. You may also upload examples of their work.

For more information please contact Linda Conway at l.conway@nenpa.com.

Wayne Braverman – The Bedford Citizen, Bedford, MA

Wayne Braverman, managing editor of The Bedford (MA) Citizen, receives the Bob Wallack Community Journalism Award for his distinguished reputation as a resourceful, media-savvy, multi-award-winning journalist and pioneering managing editor. He is an accomplished and seasoned journalist whose skills and experience transcend media.

By design, he has spent his entire 50-year media career in community journalism and has earned more than 50 awards at national, regional, and state levels in newspapers, television, and public speaking.

Whether online or in print, Wayne consistently achieves the highest journalistic standards in all of his work. In his roles as lecturer, reporter, editor, and opinion writer, he has demonstrated an understanding of the role of journalism and its sacred trust with the public.

There are innumerable examples over his illustrious career of how much of a positive influence Wayne has had on his employers, colleagues, and readers.

Steve Collins – Sun Journal, Lewiston, ME
In her heartfelt nomination letter, Lewiston Sun Journal executive editor Judith Meyers introduces staff writer Steve Collins as a principled journalist willing to quit his previous newspaper job – on Christmas Eve, no less – to protest an ethical lapse by its owner. And while it is certainly true the bizarre circumstances surrounding his abrupt departure from the Bristol Press (and subsequent relocation to Maine eight months later) remains a tawdry chapter in New England journalism, it would be a disservice to define Collins solely by his response to this episode – no matter how noble or just.

More compelling in terms of his selection as the recipient of this year’s Bob Wallack Community Journalism Award is the remarkable breadth and scope of Collins’ work over a career spanning more than three decades.

Although each of the 2022 nominees was a deserving candidate, it would be hard to find a journalist more valuable to a newspaper franchise – or more impactful to Sun Journal readers throughout Androscoggin County – than Collins.

Simply put, his remarkable productivity has been surpassed only by a versatility all but gone from the newspaper industry. Mature and seasoned, Collins has proven himself adept at both straight and enterprise reporting during his years on the political and legislative beats. He also is a skilled researcher, adept at unearthing public documents and other data to connect the dots and enlighten readers, as well as an accomplished historian. Better still, he is a stylistic writer with a keen eye for detail, who is able to keep readers engaged through sophisticated, extended narratives.

While reading Collins’ delightful work on the Sun Journal’s recent 175th-anniversary edition, it became hard to ignore the obvious parallels with his forebears at the newspaper. A throwback in many ways, he continues the proud lineage of Dartmouth College graduate Nelson Dingley Jr., who purchased the (former) Lewiston Falls Daily Journal in September 1857 and found himself, not only sole proprietor, and editor, but also reporter, foreman, and bookkeeper. Collins probably hasn’t been asked to keep the Sun Journal’s balance sheets – yet. But one senses that he would gladly pitch in if needed.

Perhaps most noteworthy has been Collins’ impassioned work with young journalists, both at the Sun Journal and also through Youth Journalism International – an educational charity founded in 1994 by Steve and his wife, Jackie Majerus-Collins, to mentor aspiring journalists around the globe on issues of writing, ethics, and media literacy. Not surprisingly, Collins cited his ongoing work with the non-profit as a decisive factor in his 2015 decision to quit the Bristol Press.

Thank you, Steve, for continuing to fight the good fight and reminding us “old fogeys” (and young ones, too) why we were drawn to this business in the first place – and also for reminding us that, for all its well-documented shortcomings, journalism remains a worthy and necessary calling, more now than ever.

James D Haggerty III
Daily Times Chronicle, Woburn, MA

Still working morning til night, James D Haggerty III, is fast approaching his 83rd birthday and continues to cover and serve his communities as Editor-in-Chief of the Woburn Daily Times Inc, one of the last independent family-owned newspaper groups in Massachusetts. He is only the third editor-in-chief in 120 years overseeing the publications.

As a young child, he helped stuff inserts and was a newspaper carrier. Upon graduation from the University of New Hampshire and Boston University Journalism master’s program, James went full-time with the newspaper in the early ’60s. Yes, that is now over 70 years of community journalism.

One can only imagine the thousands of articles covering subjects and people, some of a sensitive nature, that he has written or overseen that have had a huge impact and, in some cases, influences over our communities.

An example of his tenacity with the code of journalism ethics was on display in the 80’s when the city of Woburn became a national story regarding contaminated water and the deaths of children in an isolated area. Despite local pressure and in some cases heavy criticism, the Daily Times held firm exposing and covering the story. The hard reporting led to a book and a blockbuster movie ‘A Civil Action’. The newsroom under James’s supervision received the Allan B Rogers Investigative award for their effort.

During that time of writing now thousands of community news articles, he has supervised and mentored countless numbers of journalists. Some with long careers at his publications and others who moved on to bright opportunities and careers in journalism. Just one example would be Yankee Quill recipient, media guru, Northeastern University professor Dan Kennedy, who began as a community editor under James’s watch.

Edward W. Forry
Dorchester Reporter, Dorchester, MA

In his nomination letter, Tom Mulvoy, Jr. said Ed’s active, highly productive, and meaningful work over the last 37 years doing street-level, urban newspapering in Boston’s largest and most diverse neighborhood is an enduring credit to the profession we all share.

Over the decades, Ed and his family, in particular his son William, who succeeded his father as editor and publisher several years ago, have, with their print and online Dorchester Reporter and Boston Irish Reporter, presented readers with weekly and monthly packages of news, features, opinion, calendars, and advertisements that speak directly to their interests in an increasingly heterogeneous community.

Ed, who founded the Reporter with his wife, the late Mary Casey Forry, in 1983, and the Irish Reporter in 1990, hasn’t decamped from his office. With his institutional memory at the ready, and with his reporting and writing as an emeritus, he continues his watch over those interests because he has lived with them intimately in his Dorchester neighborhood for more than 75 years.

Ed Forry has long been a latter-day equivalent of the small-town newspaper editor memorialized in so many movies and histories: He knows personally many of the Reporter’s readers, advertisers and those the Reporter has covered since the Reagan years, and for over three decades he has never held back when he believed critical issues – local, state, and national – deserved attention in his editorials.

This year, three decades after he and Mary founded the Irish Reporter, which covers the Irish-American community in Eastern Massachusetts, Ed, as publisher, led its transition from strictly print to a hybrid that is mostly digital, but that also features print magazines four times a year.

Ed Forry is always looking ahead. Like those small-town newspaper proprietors, he and his son have nurtured the future of serious local journalism year after year by providing on the beat opportunities for young reporters and writers and interns on the make. Graduates of the Reporter’s newsroom continue to move on to regional and national publications and other news and feature outlets.

His continuing zeal for telling stories that count for his neighborhood has been edifying; now in his mid-70s, he likes to think that the next story will be his newsroom’s best yet.

John Flowers
Addison Independent, Middlebury, VT

This special award recognizes an individual who has an exceptional record of commitment to community journalism. It celebrates the accomplishments of someone who, over a sustained period of time, has faithfully served the community for which they are responsible and has played an active, constructive role in contributing to its quality of life.

Bob Wallack was the true definition of a community journalist., and John Flowers has been a mirror image for 35 years. John does it all.

He covers the top – and toughest —beats for a widely read newspaper expected to deliver all the news to about two dozen diverse communities. Everything from the shire town of Middlebury —with its high profile college —to small farming communities that struggle to exist.

Besides covering the usual municipal and school affairs, John has taken the lead on legislative issues that impact the Addison County area and the state.

Many state legislators – and local officials —have him on speed dial because they know he will tell a story – and tell it right. He goes the extra mile getting a story.

John also covers Human Services – and their various ongoing battles, especially over the lack of funding for pre -school, elderly, the disadvantaged, the unemployed, veterans and more. He brings the “human side” to stories on Human Services.

He is a master of the feature story, writing about the lives of community members that make up a rural county of nearly 40,000 people.

John also covers all the courts for Addison County and chases after the sometimes not -forthcoming local and state police and sheriff’s department with all the latest breaking news. John also has been known to even fill in for sports as needed by covering games, including a state championship contest.

John is not afraid to hold the feet of the police – or any officials — to the fire. When their press releases are vague, he is on top of the police chief, sheriff or station commander asking for the missing information that readers need to know – and expect to read.

Because of John’s strong qualities, including leadership and planning, his publisher urged him to become an active member of the Vermont Press Association. He has been a key player on critical bills making needed fixes to the Vermont Public Records Law and the Vermont Open Meeting Law, providing important testimony and support on behalf of the VPA to both the Senate and House Committee.

Few things, if any, can happen in Addison County without John Flowers knowing about it. He is plugged into the community – and the community is plugged into him. He has played a constructive role in contributing to the quality of life in Addison County and Vermont.

Paul Leighton

The Salem (MA) News

When young reporters join our newsroom, they are often seated near Paul Leighton.

A veteran at The Salem News, Paul is a mentor to younger journalists. He teaches simply by being himself—he gets the documents before asking the questions and always keeps our readers in mind as he’s crafting a story. He’s aggressive but not abrasive, polite but persistent.

Paul is soft-spoken, but his reporting is not. He tackles important community issues and sheds light on topics that aren’t getting the attention they deserve.

For instance, when Beverly’s last remaining community bank announced in 2014 plans to go public, Paul explained what that could mean to depositors in a way the average reader could understand. Just a few years before, two other North Shore banks became stock-owned, merged and were sold to a national chain—and top bank executives received millions in the deal. It appeared Beverly’s bank could follow suit.

But in this case, after Paul’s story was published, depositors rejected the conversion plan. Beverly Bank officials were stunned, and, in the end, they withdrew the plan. One longtime account holder at the bank went so far as to write a letter to the editor to The Salem News, crediting Paul’s reporting as a reason for her vote against the conversion.

“I received the notice from the bank announcing the change in organization but it was written in the usual ‘legalese’ and I did not fully understand the significance until reading Mr. Leighton’s well-written, easily understood story,” she wrote.

Paul brings the same level of care to his feature writing. Last fall, he told the story of a Salem veteran who volunteers at the hospice wing of the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford, sitting with veterans who are at the end of their lives. We felt what it’s like to hold the hand of a man as he takes his final breath, and how meaningful that simple act is to these veterans and their families.

A reporter for The Salem News for 34 years, Paul started in the sports department. For many years, he covered his own city of Beverly, reporting on problems with the police department and illegal gambling at several of the city’s social clubs. As an enterprise reporter, Paul has uncovered financial abuses at the regions’ vocational school, the unexpected closure of the area’s only RMV, and cutbacks and mergers involving the area’s community hospitals.

We can think of no other reporter more deserving of the Bob Wallack Community Journalism Award.

– Cheryl Richardson
The Salem News

Ray Duckler

Concord (NH) Monitor

Glasses perched on the tip of his nose, outstretched arms clinging to a broadsheet and stained coffee mug nearby—the signs are clear. Ray Duckler is an old-school print journalist, and he’s on the hunt for his next column.

Ray has long been a must-read in central New Hampshire. He’s been bringing his personality and his extraordinary writing skills to the Monitor pages for the past 30-plus years, first in sports and now mostly in news. I’m not sure you could find a journalist in America who hits a broader range of topics.

Ray’s gone toe-to-toe with presidential candidates, and with political operatives like Corey Lewandowski. He sat with a 70-pound woman with a severe eating disorder as she devoured—and then purged—a grocery cart’s worth of food in a three-hour marathon. Ray spent a year documenting the life of a new refugee family (yes, he even met them at the airport). He even tracked down a former Catholic priest who was booted from the church during the sex abuse crisis nearly two decades ago, only to resurface as a pastor with a small Unitarian Universalist congregation. And on one recent Saturday, Ray climbed the steep embankment of an overpass around dusk to interview stranded drivers and to take photos.

That’s just a small sampling of the types of stories Ray Duckler has brought to readers in central New Hampshire in recent months. Perhaps more impressive is his ability to turn a mundane assignment into a compelling story, both through his prose and his untiring effort to get the bigger story.

Just one small example of this occurred a few weeks ago when we sent Ray to cover the arrival of a traveling Vietnam War memorial at the University of New Hampshire. His assignment was to talk to folks and come back with a front-page-worthy story. In typical Duckler fashion, he found Eleanor Riordan, who was there to locate Panel E44, Line 53—the area of the wall that marked her son’s name. George Riordan died nearly 50 years ago on the battlefield as he crouched over a wounded comrade he was trying to save. The soldier George Riordan died protecting is still alive today. Ray tracked him down by phone at his home in Staten Island. Don Ritter recounted that gripping moment, and how it has impacted his life since, including his work as a firefighter at Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001.

Ray Duckler’s words summed it up best: “Like that day on March 14, 1968, Georgie and Ritter are together forever, pressed against each other. One can’t be mentioned without the other. They are examples of who we can be, what we can accomplish, why there is hope for the human spirit when the world often times seems to be falling apart.”

For the families involved, it brought meaning to five decades of heartache. For readers, it helped them understand sacrifice on the battlefield, and the deep connections that linger. For Ray Duckler, it was all in a day’s work.

-Steve Leone
Editor, Concord Monitor

bob-wallack-award-stanley-moultonStanley Moulton

Daily Hampshire Gazette – Northampton, MA

Stan and I worked together at the Daily Hampshire Gazette for 35 years, before I retired as publisher in 2013. For 22 of those years I was editor of the paper and Stan was an indispensable member of the news team.

Stan was a reporter at the Gazette when I arrived in 1977. He moved up to city editor and over the years filled a number of key leadership roles in the newsroom, including web editor, sports editor, managing editor and night managing editor. Stan brought great passion to every role: dispatching reporters and photographers when news broke, challenging their copy, identifying good enterprise projects, pressing for public records, maintaining high professional standards, stepping up to the challenge of digital, and hustling, always hustling, to get the story first and get it right. I can think of no major story covered by the Gazette in those 35 years that Stan was not involved with in some way.

Stan lives in Northampton and his knowledge of the city and surrounding communities is encyclopedic. News stories or columns he wrote never lacked for accuracy, fairness, background or context. I consulted him often when writing editorials. His knowledge and insight always made for stronger opinion pieces. Recently he was on a panel with the current Northampton mayor and his predecessors back to 1980. Stan was masterful discussing significant news events over that time span and drawing parallels among city administrations.

Stan served the newspaper and his community in other ways: organizing and moderating candidate debates for every election, initiating sit-downs between Gazette staff and political leaders, hosting community discussions on timely topics, speaking to school and civic groups, raising money for scholarships, and as a lay leader in his church. He coached the Gazette team in the annual PTO adult spelling bee, screened candidates for civic awards the paper presented in conjunction with United Way, and, when we needed volunteers to lead a tour through the plant, Stan always stepped up. The list goes on.

Perhaps Stan’s greatest legacy to the profession is his oversight of the Gazette’s internship program, a role he has filled for at least 25 years. Stan would interview every intern applicant, decide which ones to accept, determine their desk assignment based on skill level and interests, and then run an orientation and training program that was essentially Journalism 101. He would check in with their supervising editors throughout the semester, and prepare the forms needed for the students to get academic credit for the experience. It is a very aggressive internship program for a small daily, but it has worked because of Stan’s deep commitment. The number of Gazette interns now working in the profession attest to his efforts, as does a file drawer stuffed with letters and cards of thanks.

Stan Moulton is a consummate community journalist. The professional awards he has earned, and those earned by the Gazette thanks to his work, are one way to measure this work. The tributes from interns and young reporters he trained are another. Most important is the high regard and deep respect Stan enjoys in Northampton for his 40 years of fair and comprehensive journalism, and service to the community.

– Jim Foudy

This was just one letter out of many that were received in support of Stan Moulton’s nomination for the Bob Wallack Community Journalism Award.

bob-wallack-award-thor-jourgensenThor Jourgensen

The Daily Item – Lynn, MA

How do you weave the fabric of a community into a tapestry of its triumphs and tragedies? Answer: One stitch at a time, which is what Thor Jourgensen has been doing for 27 years as a reporter for The Daily Item in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Thor is, by any definition a community-oriented reporter committed to giving a voice to residents throughout the Greater Lynn area. His early mentors in the business impressed upon him the importance of stepping aside as a writer and letting the people on whom he reported tell their story. He consistently applies those words of wisdom as he works to craft stories around people who are passionate about their community and the issues each faces.

Thor has not told one person’s story once and then moved on to the next headline or topical issue. He has written about the people who built Lynn, like the Migliaccio family’s three generations, from the immigrant who built a new life in Lynn to the sons who committed their teen years and 20s to carrying on a family legacy through their local florist business.

When he told the story of a Guatemalan congregation rebuilding a giant brick church in Lynn’s center, it was only after telling the stories of Jewish Americans who made the church a temple and brought it to its most glorious heights.

In decades spent reporting on Lynn and surrounding communities, Thor told the story of Lynn’s residents, knitting together tales of struggle and promise. He has repeatedly written about local veterans, like the woman whose face was the last one American soldiers saw before they died on a remote Pacific island. When a national veterans’ organization marked a milestone, Thor made sure the accomplishment could be seen by Item readers on the face of a local Afghan war veteran.

He told the story 20 years ago of a Lynn woman who turned terror at the hands of an abuser into founding an organization providing safe haven to abused women. In 2003, Portal to Hope and the Massachusetts Legislature honored Thor’s commitment to domestic violence prevention reporting.

In 2010 when domestic violence claimed a couple’s life, he told their story through a tragic account of how the local court system missed the warning signs of abuse.

No school child’s achievement, no senior’s hobby, no disenfranchised resident’s struggle is too pedestrian for Thor to report on, stitching the story into the tapestry of life in the city he lives and works in. Thor doesn’t just report on the community, he is an active part of the community.

Some of his greatest rewards of the job come from gratitude expressed by subjects of the more difficult stories for his fair and accurate reporting. And sometimes, he says, “thank you” from a parent, or from the subject of one of his human-interest stories, goes a long way.

These are just a few examples of many throughout Thor’s three decade-long career that demonstrate his reporting experience, the commitment he has made to community journalism, and his body of work which makes him a most worthy recipient of the Bob Wallack Community Journalism Award.

bob-wallack-award-steve-damishSteve Damish

The Enterprise – Brockton, MA

Enterprise Managing Editor Steve Damish began writing about opiate addiction in 2006, when he learned of two Brockton High School students who had died from heroin overdoses – one of them an acclaimed dancer who had performed at the White House.

His Sunday columns about the individuals drew calls and letters from the parents of other overdose victims, many of whom had felt isolated, frustrated and stigmatized, asking that he dig deeper. He did. By attending support groups, visiting with addicts and their families, and studying data. He quickly realized the problem was far worse than people know. He marshaled the resources of the newsroom in what was to become an eight-year effort not only to reveal the breadth and depth of the problem, but to gain support for intervention, treatment and understanding.

Under his direction, the newspaper undertook two ground-breaking series that were the first to expose the prevalence of opioid addiction in southeastern Massachusetts and its impact on communities and families as well as individuals. The results were “Wasted Youth” and “Wasted Youth – A Deadly Surge,” published in 2007 and 2008. The two series revealed that dozens of young adults throughout the Brockton area had died, hundreds had overdosed – and scores of families and communities had been fractured, mostly from the drugs OxyContin and heroin. Both series ran for four days and featured extensive print and online components. The centerpieces for each day’s presentation were profiles of local addicts written by Damish himself.

To report these stories, he spent months visiting with addicts and their families in sober houses, treatment facilities, halfway homes, recovery schools, drug houses and their homes. To reach addicts, Steve would deliver them a Thanksgiving meal at their sober house, pray with them at a friend’s graveside, or sit and hold their hands as they fought through withdrawal and recovery. His personal commitment helped to convince everyone featured in the stories to allow their real names and photos to be used, despite the stigma connected to drug addiction.